From afar, it’s easy to think that professional athletes have unlimited money. While that may seem true — they get paid millions of dollars to play a children’s game, after all — it’s not the case. Taxes and other expenses can eat through any amount of cash in the blink of an eye. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal about that reality.
When he moved from Orlando to Los Angeles, the center inked a seven-year, $120 million contract. Although that allowed Shaq to enjoy a summer of “super floss mode,” he quickly learned that he had eaten through an entire season’s worth of salary before taking the court.
Shaquille O’Neal spent millions of dollars on multiple cars, a new house, and having fun with his friends
Shaquille O’Neal during his time with the LA Lakers. | Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
When he was weighing his free agency options in 1996, Shaquille O’Neal wanted to be paid more than Juwan Howard and Alonzo Mourning. While he didn’t get the $150 million he was chasing, the center did land a $120 million contract from the Los Angeles Lakers. In reality, though, a good chunk of that money never reached his bank account.
“$120 was good enough for me, but then reality hit,” O’Neal explained on The Big Podcast with Shaq. “Because I had forgot all about LA tax and FICA. … No, seriously. When I get to LA, I’m in super floss mode. I go to a Rolls Royce dealership, matter of fact, Mike Tyson is in there. He just bought two. So, I’m in there looking, and I’m like, ‘How much is this? How much is this?’ … I like to spend, but I spend on however much I want spend, not how much you tell me. So I’m looking at these cars, ‘How much this cost?’ … So then the guy gets frustrated, he’s an old guy, he’s about 80 years old, he says, ‘Sonny, can you afford these cars? You keep asking about the prices.’ Yeah, now I’m pissed.”
While O’Neal has told a similar story about a Bentleys, the ending is the same: He left with three cars just to prove he could afford the million dollar price tag.
That wasn’t the end of the spending, though. The Diesel also had to buy a new home in some uncomfortable circumstances.
“I was staying on the beach, and one night on the beach, I was like right there on the Strand,” O’Neal continued. “And one night, my bedroom was on the third floor, and one night, and like I always slept with the door open, the sliding …….